WHERE to PADDLE?
We are spoilt for choices in Maidenhead. Depending on river traffic, rowing events, flow and winds and parking, I choose between 4 main sites for my lessons.
Boulters Lock; meet at the Boulters Lock car park ( not Jenners Cafe car park) and with easy access to the lock cut this makes a wise and beautiful week day choice, too busy for weekend days
Boulters to Cliveden . Paddling up stream from Boulters you can meander along the Thames past Clivden Gorges and some islands and see Cliveden and the golden clock lit up. Simply breath taking and our firm favourite. If you are a beginner you may not get all the way to National Trust park but you will see it from a distant. Would not reccomend it to beginners during the weekend but super quiet for an evening paddle.
Boulters to Jubliee ( Beginners) For a shorter easier paddle that is also good for beginners and kids too and without motorised boats, this beginning of the Jubliee is a smart choice, enter upstream after Boulters weir. Wonderful choice for a spot of yoga.
Boulters to Hedsor For a longer paddle head upstream from Boulters passed Cliveden and if conditions are easy you will reach the back water of Hedsor which leads up to Cookham weir, but that may take up to 90 minutes depending on the flow , winds and your fitness.
Boulters to Bridges If you want practice on a portage (getting in and out at weirs and locks) then we go paddle downstream and walk over Ray Mill Island and head towards Maidenhead Bridge. You will pass under new footbridge bridge joining Berks to Bucks and pass under a few more bridges depending on your speed and time of journey.
Bridge to Bridge ( Beginners & Skill development) Guards Club Park is just off Oldacres and is a little jewel of a park situated between Maidenhead Bridge and the Sounding Arch, perfect for yoga as there is an island there protecting us from motorised river craft and rowers. Maidenhead Rowing Club is the other side of the island. Paddling up or down streams gives different views, just watch out for rowers as they don’t always look where they are rowing! For the Family Fun Paddle this area infront of the park is perfect and safe away from big boats and rowers, it also makes an ideal practice grounds to work on paddle skills.
Cookham to Hedsor, don’t do this one alone if you are a beginner as it requires so portages ( getting out at weirs) but it is simply beautiful, very few boats and you explore areas that you can’t see walking.
Bray: a lovely little treat to paddle there especially on Mondays as the Waterside Inn is closed and we can paddle down the back waters which is very calm and quiet backwaters and through an island which ideal of beginners before heading on the Thames. Paddling upstream from Bray takes you to Boulters and downstream you quickly get to the lock and towards Windsor.
Other favourites are launching off from the Flower Pot on the way to Henley and from Wargrave. Once people’s confidence and paddling skills develop these longer paddles are fantastic and you can go out for hours. By then you may want to purchase your own boards (but we will always have a few boards to hire). Normally when you book your paddle lesson then you will be told where you are paddling from, this is only as planned as the weather.
Keep it touch with our facebook site https://www.facebook.com/WhatsSup66 to see improtu paddles and planned ones too. Summer is about building your SUP skills so you are more than capable of going on longer paddles in autumn and winter if you choose.
Note of caution: ideally never paddle alone, let someone know where you are paddling. Where a buoyancy aid when paddling and always have your leashed connected to your board. Make sure you keep hydrated and you have a phone. When weather is perfect, paddling is easy but as soon as the rains fall the flow of the river can change within 24 hours so always check flows as rain from Oxford flows downstream to us without you knowing the flows will increase and can make it much harder and in some cases paddling is not recommended. http://riverconditions.environment-agency.gov.uk.
For predicted winds speeds and directions check on https://www.windguru.cz/114559I
If you have your own board you may want to consider a SUP Safety and Rescue course that will will put on a few times a year and or just improve your foot work and skills so your whole body gets the benefit.